OPINION

HEGEMONIC POWER SYNDROME AND THE FATE OF WTO GAME OF THRONE

By Comrade Ismail Abdulazeez Mantu

The international system has over the time evolved as the common arena for the interplay of power politics. Sovereign Nation-States with diverse but sometimes compromising national interests are arguably the dominant actors in the international system. There are however, wide degree of variations in the level of influence and control countries exert on the system. Like Goerge Orwell will put it in his masterpiece, ‘The Animals Farm’; “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than the others”. All recognize states actors can on equal ground make claims to being sovereign states. This will not however change the fact that some countries are stronger than others within the system. All states really matters to the system, but the super powerful states within the system matter most because those powerful states possesses the potentials of shaping the working of the entire system.

Balance of power as a key component has greatly shapes the structure of the international system over the course of history. The structure of the global balance of power first appear in form of a ‘Bipolar System’ with two hegemonic powers (USA and defuct USSR) emerging as the two dominant powers within the system after the end of the Second World War in 1945. The Bipolar system at that time usher in an ideological driven ‘Cold War’ between the two roughly equal in strengths and mights hegemonic powers, birthing a constantly opposing camps (NATO and WARSAW PAC). Until the end of the Cold War in 1989, and the subsequent disintegration of Russia led USSR in December 2001, the structure of the global balance of power experience a paradigm shift from Bipolarity to Unipolarity.

The falling apart of the defunct USSR in 2001 meant the rise of USA as the global hegemonic power left on the planet, and that of course restructure the global balance of power into a Unipolar system with a single dominant hegemonic power.

The USA has since the decline of defunct USSR enjoy relatively a monopoly of hegemonic power without opposition until the sudden rise of China and Russia in recent time. The global balance of power lately is symbolizing the possible manifestation of a Multipolar system with more than two hegemonic powers in the system. Although Russia is a potential great power having recently resurrected from Cold War defeat in the hand of USA during the bipolar era. But Russia lacks the capabilities of an hegemonic power which can pose a threat on the USA as global hegemonic power. Given that Russia is a monocultural economy which is mainly driven by Gas and lack of expansion in Russia’s population density are the stumbling blocks to the rise of Russia as a global hegemonic power. Yet I cannot easily write off Russia as a potential global hegemonic power in the system, given her military mights and influence across Eastern Europe and beyond. But Russia is for now certainly the weakest potential hegemonic power compare to USA and China.

China on the other hand is rising steadily as a potential hegemonic power over the course of the unipolar moment. China is the real threat USA has to worry most about as a ‘Peer Competitor’ in the system. China has the potentials to become a very strong global hegemonic power, and if care is not taking China can outrightly overtakes the USA. The reason why the USA remain a global hegemonic power for so long is largely due to her remarkable growing population density in addition to her powerful and dynamic economy.

The primary interests of hegemonic powers (what they care most about in the international system) is beyond posing as ‘global watchdog’ in time of threat to keep the system intact. First, hegemonic powers cares most about their neighborhood. The USA for instance care about her neighborhood. The Western Hemisphere which is obviously the USA neighborhood is something the USA protect just like China care most about Asia.

Aside their neighborhood, another place hegemonic powers cares most about is the Regions with another potential hegemonic power. The USA will care about Asia because of the presence of China, North and South Koreas and possibly Japan. The USA will also care about Europe due to the presence of Russia, Germany, France and Britain. The USA will also care about the Persian gulf largely due to the presence of crude oil.

Basically, the primary goal of any global hegemonic power is to first achieve regional hegemony. In other words, hegemonic powers seek to have a total control within their region first before any other thing. This is why USA will do everything possible to be recognize first as hegemon in Western Hemisphere, and the same thing is applicable to China in Asia.

Hegemonic powers will also do everything possible to prevent the rise of peer competitor as a rival regional hegemon within their domain. This is because powerful country that become regional hegemon can therefore move freely to other regions. This equally explains the reason why today we see the USA involved militarily, economically and politically almost everywhere around the world. It is not because the USA is the most powerful country in the world. It is simply because there are no threats to the USA hegemonic stands in the Western Hemisphere. The USA do not have to worry about security in the Western Hemisphere. That makes the USA roam about around the world and interfere in the political affairs of other countries around the globe.

The emerging US-China competition will mean that the USA will do everything possible to prevent China from becoming a regional hegemonic power in Asia. The USA will want a situation where China will have to worry about security in Asia, and only that way China will not be able to roam freely to other countries outside Asia. So in order to prevent China from being a peer competitor, the USA will always create a tension in Asia for China to worry about.

The USA which has been a regional hegemonic power in the Western Hemisphere since roughly 1900, has prevented the rise of other peer competitors throughout the 20th Century. Notably among them is the Imperial and Nazist Germany, the imperial Japan and the USSR.

China will certainly one day attempt to be a regional hegemonic power in Asia. China will attempt to dominate Asia just like USA dominated Western Hemisphere today. In fact China will aim at being the most powerful country in Asia and try to push the USA military out of Asia. Since the USA cannot also tolerate seeing another distance hegemonic power having a military base in Western Hemisphere. Why should China accept the USA having a military base in Asia?

The profound transformations currently taking place in the international system will no doubt have a tremendous effects on the fate of the prestigious throne of Director General, World Trade Organization (WTO). The USA in an attempt to frustrate China from being a clear regional hegemonic power in Asia, will therefore be looking for a medium to strengthen her relationship with other emerging economies in Asia such as South Korea, using the vacant position of WTO DG as the bargaining chip.

The USA has always play a very vital role in deciding who leads the WTO, but not without the full backing of most of its European allies. The endorsement of the candidature of South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee by USA will signal a clear intention of the USA to further threaten China’s dominance in Asia. Aside South Korea being an emerging economy challenging China’s regional hegemonic stands in Asia, the strong economic tie between South Korea and USA in recent time should be worrisome to China.

Meanwhile, relationship between Nigeria and China is expanding on growing bilateral trade and strategic cooperation. China is consider one of Nigeria’s closest allies and partners. China is also one of Nigeria’s important trading and export partners. This however, to a greater extent has many things in connection with China’s outward drive to extend its tentacles beyond the shore of Asia to far Africa as a potential global hegemonic power. Everything is pointing to the fact that China and her allies, although not as influential as the USA may appear to be, but certainly are going to drum their support for Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo Iweala. China in this game will play less heed to the ‘Regional Brotherhood’ between her and South Korea. China will prioritize her goal to attain hegemonic power status at the detriment of regional bounds.

From my perspective, WTO game of throne is far beyond clash between the candidates and the interests of their respective nationalities. It is just another avenue for the USA and China to test their hegemonic mights and strengths. Let the faction with the best strategies win.

Comrade Ismail Abdulazeez Mantu
Polical and Human Rights Activist
a.ismail@fudutsinma.edu.ng

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